Although it isn’t officially launched yet, Shopify has been heavily trailing that their upcoming updates will include a version of their checkout that is on one page only rather than across multiple steps.
The obvious question to ask is; will the new one page format perform better than the multi-stage one? At Zuko we’ve got an integration with Shopify Plus, so we’ve gained our fair share of insights on the current flow but, at the time of writing, we haven’t got our hands on the new one so we can’t definitively answer that question.
Of course, the hard-core experimenters amongst us will argue that there is no correct answer. Every website and customer base is different so the only way to be sure if a one page execution will improve conversion is to A/B test it and see if there is a statistically significant uplift.
That said, we can still analyse the new format and see if there are any factors that would support or refute the hypothesis that one page is better. This article sets out the potential reasons that the new checkout will be a positive for Shopify merchants as well as the possible downsides so you can feed that into your thinking as you decide whether to make the change.
The simple answer is that the new checkout is what it says it is - a checkout experience that is condensed into one page rather than one where the user progresses through a series of stages by means of a ‘Continue’ or ‘Submit’ Button.
This essentially means that key customer information like personal, shipping and billing details have to be captured quickly in one place rather than being solicited in a more leisurely multi-step journey.
The previous version of the checkout was split into 3 stages collecting different types of data:
These will now be combined into one single stage with no break between them.
In addition, whilst final details are not released yet, the new features believed to be in the new version of the checkout include:
The stated reason for introducing the one page format is to deliver a better experience for customers and reduce cart abandonment rates for merchants. Whilst we do not doubt the sincerity of this intent, we suspect there is an additional kicker for Shopify.
One of Shopify’s strategic goals is to increase usage of Shop Pay. Driving adoption of the one page checkout will deliver greater reach for the payment method, hopefully delivering a critical mass that will, in turn, increase adoption outside of the Shopify ecosystem. For them, it could be a win-win; happier customers and merchants plus greater revenues from one of their key ancillary products.
So far so good. Who can argue with improvements to the merchant and customer experience? However, let’s unpack that. What are the hypotheses that underpin the assertion that the one page checkout will deliver what Shopify claims it will?
This is a bit of a circular argument but one point of view is that Shopify wouldn’t be releasing this feature if they hadn't tested the heck out of it and were certain that it would deliver an uplift in key metrics. This may very well be true but could also just be authorial fallacy in action. It is entirely possible (but unlikely) that, once in the wild, the execution will underwhelm and not deliver what is promised. We need to rely on more concrete reasons to underpin the belief in a positive impact.
Currently, users in a Shopify checkout have to load three pages OR the merchant is using a hacked one page checkout using third party tools. In either case the load and checkout speed is much reduced by Shopify’s native one page solution. Higher load speeds can lead to user abandonment so a faster load should deliver more conversions.
If a customer doesn’t have to click back and forth between pages and can complete the fields more quickly it is likely to deliver a better user experience leading to more successful checkout completions. The fewer points of friction there are, the lower the chance of abandonment.
The inclusion of one-click solutions like Shop Pay on the first page makes it more likely that the customer will take the lowest path of resistance and click on the button. This cuts out multiple areas of potential abandonment which should result in more customers placing orders.
Although the concept of a one page checkout seems like a positive, it’s not a one way bet. There are a few factors that may mean that the outcome is not as optimal as it is advertised. They include:
By placing all the elements of a checkout on one page you are inevitably making it longer (particularly on mobile). This could be a little daunting for some customers who are used to the multi-stage checkout format and cause some friction when users have to scroll up and down to complete the form (especially if any errors are triggered).
Most basic analytics software (such as Google Analytics) will give you stage by stage tracking. In a multi-step scenario you’ll know which stage your users abandon on, giving you visibility on where your points of friction are so you can fix them and improve progression / completion. When this is changed to a single page your insight is reduced, you only have one URL to see where you have lost the customer which is not very helpful.
Fortunately, more advanced form analytics providers such as Zuko track on a field level so if you use Zuko’s Shopify Plus integration you’ll be able to see where your UX problems are down to a field and question level.
In a multi-step process you have the ability to capture a user’s email address on step one and, if they drop out later, you have the opportunity to nurture and cajole them back to purchase. In a one step checkout you lose that possibility.
In a three page checkout process you have much more digital real estate to offer the customer upsell and cross-sell opportunities. With fewer purchase steps you have less chances to increase your order value in this way.
On balance, the Shopify One Page checkout seems likely to have a positive impact on user experience and conversion but it’s not that simple. There are factors that may negatively affect conversion or average order value. As any true experimentation or UX professional will tell you, the only way to be sure is to test and follow the results.
Either way, it’s a brave new world for Shopify agencies and merchants and we’re excited to see where it leads.
For details on Zuko’s integration with Shopify Plus and how you can use it to improve your conversion rate read our guide here.
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